Plaintiffs allege that Tribune Media Company, Tribune Broadcasting Company, LLC, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., Nexstar Media Group, Inc., Hearst Television Inc., TEGNA Inc., and Gray Television, Inc. colluded to fix prices and share competitively sensitive and nonpublic information regarding advertising sales and pricing, which allowed Defendants to artificially inflate the prices of television advertisements.
Following the public disclosure of a federal investigation regarding substantially similar allegations by the Antitrust Division of the DOJ, Hausfeld filed its complaint in July 2018 alleging price fixing of commercials to be aired on broadcast television by Defendants. Shortly thereafter, in November 2018, the DOJ announced it had reached a settlement with six broadcast television companies, including three of the Defendants here—Sinclair, Tribune and Nexstar. In a November 13, 2018 DOJ press release announcing the settlement, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division was quoted as saying: “The unlawful exchange of competitively sensitive information allowed these television broadcast companies to disrupt the normal competitive process of spot advertising in markets across the United States.” According to the same press release, the “proposed settlement prohibits the direct or indirect sharing of such competitively sensitive information,” and “further requires defendants to cooperate in the department’s ongoing investigation, and to adopt rigorous antitrust compliance and reporting measures to prevent similar anticompetitive conduct in the future.”
The multidistrict litigation is currently before Judge Kendall in the Northern District of Illinois under the caption In re Local TV Advertising, MDL 2867 (N.D.Ill.). On January 23, 2019 the Court appointed Hausfeld’s Megan E. Jones to serve as lead counsel in the case. U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall said in her order that “[Jones] has done significant work in identifying and investigating potential claims, she is highly experienced in complex litigation, she knows antitrust law, and her firm has appropriate resources to represent the class.” Hausfeld “more than meets” the requirements to serve as lead counsel, said the order.